By Ed Martin, Editor
CIF State Champion Michael Burke in the high jump
CIF State Champion Michael Burke in the high jump

UCLA is getting a bargain. Lemoore High School high jumper Michael Burke, on Saturday, won the state title in the high jump with a 6-11 effort at the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis. It took him three attempts, but he finally cleared 6-11 to win the state title.

Next stop is UCLA where he will attend next year after signing a national letter-of-intent to participate in track and field with the Bruins.

The winning leap came after two misses at 6-11, but on his third effort he cleared the bar and with it came the coveted state title, the first state title for the Tigers since former Tiger Mark Unzueta won the championship in 1998 in the pole vault.

Lemoore High School's Michael Burke wins state title in high jump clearing 6-11 on third try

Burke joins a hallowed list of athletes who have won a state track and field title. He also is one of two athletes this year to win a coveted championship. Former Tiger Isaiah Martinez won a national wrestling title for the University of Illinois.

It didn’t come quite as easy for Burke. He missed his first attempt at 6-11 and barely nipped the bar on his second try. But the third try was a charm as he cleared it with ease to win the championship.

Burke's coach, Kelly Brown, was more than pleased with the day's events. "As a coach it feels good to have had the opportunity to work with a very determined and  well prepared young man," he said. "I have to give the coaching credit to his father, Mike Burke, who was his son's jump coach and daily inspiration. The coaching staff, Lemoore High School, and the local community are proud of Michael's achievements this year."

In Friday’s first round, Burke, made it look easy at the California Interscholastic Federation California State Track and Field Meet on Friday. The talented high jumper, who has led all California jumpers this year, was flawless on day one of the State Track Meet.

Burke jumped three times and cleared all three heights, his last lump at 6-8 to easily advance into Saturday’s finals.

His head coach, Kelly Brown, was clearly impressed by the performance of his senior high jumper, who recently signed a national letter-of-intent to attend school at UCLA where presumably he will compete on the school’s nationally known track and field team.

“He was the only one who didn’t touch the bar,” said Brown. “In fact he was way above the bar and clear. He was the top qualifier.”

It’s been a busy week for Burke. On Thursday he graduated with about 400 of his fellow classmates, got a good night’s sleep and then make the short trek to the Veterans’ Memorial Stadium at Buchanan High School, the site of this year’s State Track and Field Meet.

Should he win a gold medal in the high jump he will join an elite group of state athletes from Lemoore who won a state title. The last was Mark Unzueta who won the state pole vault in 1998. The list also includes Olympic gold medal winner Tommie Smith and former San Francisco 49 and track star Dale Messer.

Burke’s top mark this year is 7-0 and he’s cleared that height a number of times this season. His mark, while tops in California, is fifth best in the nation.

Lemoore’s other hope for a gold medal, Tyson Pereira, was unable to reach the finals by clearing 14-2 in the opening day preliminaries. He needed to clear 15-2 to make the Saturday finals. Pereira, like burke, was also a West Yosemite League champion in the pole vault.